Saturday, July 16, 2011

Coming to terms with urban banality

It has now been nine months since I moved to San Francisco to start my adult life.  Whatever that means.  It's not that I wasn't an adult before, my college experiences definitely changed me, but by the time I graduated I had already become well able to bathe regularly, clean an oven and file taxes on time every year.
Lately, though, It has come to my attention that a traditional "grownup" lifestyle is basically a trap.  Now, when considering taking off on an adventure there's a lease or mortgage, 403(b) and furniture that's not from Ikea to be considered.  It's easy to claim that material things have no importance in life, but seriously, they do.  Selling off and giving away all of your possessions and traveling to a foreign country is fun, I've done it.  However, I know that eventually I will want to come home, or at least have a home to come to.  This involves replacing all that crap you got rid of in the first place and it can be a big fat pain in the neck.  I think I slept on a leaky air mattress on the floor for the first four months after moving here and let me tell you, it was not fun.  
That being said, I have finally gotten into a comfort zone within my home, there are chairs to sit on, plants to water and usually food to eat.  And only now do I realize that I'm stuck and I have possibly been ignoring my own priorities all along.  Living in the city means that my monthly transportation cost rarely exceeds $100.  But it also means that it's tough to get out into the wilderness.  There is one coastal trail that wraps around the edge of the peninsula, but otherwise running trails requires leaving the city which can easily entail an hour or more of public transportation and then several miles of pavement before even getting to a trail head.  Not having a car also means carrying water, snacks, phone and transit pass at all times as well as trying to predict weather conditions before getting dressed.  San Fransicans can attest that weather can vary drastically from one neighborhood to the next, let alone across the bay.  Little by little I am growing accustomed to meeting my own needs in this way, but it can be frustrating to have to sink so much additional time on trivial things and training for a big trail race can feel more like a chore than a joy.  
To counter this I have gotten in the habit of always running to peaks on weekdays when I don't have the time to get out of town.  Getting up to the top of Bernal Hill, Twin Peaks or Telegraph Hill offers a satisfying challenge, I get to run on rocks and dirt for a bit and the views are often exhilarating enough to remind me of why I call myself a trail runner in the first place.  
So slowly I have been adapting and refocusing on what is most important to me.  Most importantly, I have been able to find my peace and joy in running again.  I know that as I build strength those pavement miles will seem like small hat compared to the time I am able to spend on the trail and this motivates me.  I have accepted that I have to get out there and try new things, even if it means taking a bus through bayview to get to San Bruno Mountain in running shorts with an ugly water belt.

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